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FEBS J. 2016 Feb;283(3):446-58. doi: 10.1111/febs.13587. Epub 2015 Nov 26.

Bacterial thioredoxin and thioredoxin reductase as mediators for epigallocatechin 3-gallate-induced antimicrobial action.

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College of Life Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Division of Biochemistry, Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.
The State Key Laboratory of Biomembrane and Membrane Biotechnology, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.


Epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG) is the most abundant catechin in green tea and may combat bacteria with few side-effects. Its selectivity for different bacterial infections remains unclear, and hence the identification of the underlying mechanism is of practical importance. Both the thioredoxin (Trx) system and the glutathione/glutaredoxin (Grx) system support bacterial growth. Some pathogenic bacteria are naturally deficient in the Grx system. We analyzed the effect of green tea extract (GTE) and EGCG on wild-type and null mutants of Escherichia coli with either Trx or Grx system deficiency and found that GTE and EGCG selected the Trx system as a target and killed the mutant that is exclusively dependent on Trx/Trx reductase (TrxR). EGCG inhibited the activity of both Trx1 and TrxR of E. coli in a dose-dependent and time-dependent manner. The IC50 values of EGCG for the reduced forms of E. coli Trx1/TrxR were ~ 3-4-fold lower than those for their non-reduced forms. The IC50 value of EGCG for the E. coli Trx1 system was 56-fold lower than that for the mammalian Trx1 system. The inhibition by EGCG of both Trx1 and TrxR of E. coli was irreversible. EGCG-induced inactivation of E. coli Trx1 was a second-order process, and that of E. coli TrxR was an affinity-labeling process. The covalent binding sites for EGCG in E. coli Trx1 were Trp(28) , Trp(31) and Cys(32) , and in E. coli TrxR were Cys(135) and Cys(138) . Moreover, the sensitivity of Staphylococcus aureus to EGCG was similar to that of an E. coli mutant with Grx system deficiency. EGCG-induced inactivation of Trx/TrxR in S. aureus coincided with suppressed growth of this virulent pathogen. Our findings suggest a role for EGCG-dependent Trx/TrxR inactivation in potentiating antibacterial activity of EGCG.


antibiotics; epigallocatechin 3-gallate; glutaredoxin; green tea; thioredoxin

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